SEC: Missouri Tigers

SEC's lunch links

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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Let them eat a late lunch!

SEC lunchtime links

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
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Finish your taxes on time? Then sit back and enjoy Wednesday’s lunch links.

SEC lunchtime links

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
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The tax man cometh ...
video
It was the only decision Gary Pinkel could have made, and also the right one.

Missouri announced Friday afternoon that star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was dismissed from the football program, just a day after the release of a damning police report in which he was accused of forcing his way into a female student's apartment and pushing her down four stairs.

Green-Beckham was suspended from the team indefinitely Monday, but the news came Friday that the talented junior receiver was done for good. Pinkel said that decision was made in conjunction with Missouri athletic director Mike Alden and "made with the best interests of all involved in mind."

In fairness, it would have been difficult to arrive at any other decision after reading the disturbing details in the police report as well as the revealing text messages between Green-Beckham’s girlfriend and the woman he's accused of pushing down the stairs.

The 18-year-old female student said the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Green-Beckham forced his way into her apartment in the wee hours of the morning Sunday and pushed her down at least four stairs. Green-Beckham was looking for his girlfriend, who later pleaded with the woman through a series of text messages not to press charges.

Sure enough, the woman didn’t press charges and cited her concerns about a potential backlash if she pursued the matter and a high-profile athlete such as Green-Beckham were to be arrested.

On Thursday, the Columbia (Mo.) police department announced that there would be no arrests in the case and that the case was closed after police did not get the proper cooperation.

Legally, Green-Beckham might have skated, but the damage had been done in terms of his Missouri football career. It was his third brush with trouble since arriving on campus in 2012 as the No. 3 high school prospect in the country.

[+] EnlargeDorial Green-Beckham
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsWith three run-ins with the law at Missouri, Dorial Green-Beckham's days with the Tigers are over.
Pinkel's core values for his football program are worth noting. One is being respectful of women, and Pinkel is on the record as saying that he spends a lot of time with his players on this topic.

Another one of Pinkel’s core values is not using drugs. Green-Beckham, who would have been a junior, already has two drug-related arrests on his record since coming to Mizzou.

The first core value in Pinkel’s program, though, is honesty.

So let’s be brutally honest here: If this were Pinkel's daughter who, according to the police report, was pushed down the stairs by Green-Beckham in her own apartment, there would have been zero chance of DGB returning to the team.

It's particularly troubling that an 18-year-old female is so scared and feels so threatened by the possible repercussions that she can’t bring herself to press charges against somebody she says broke into her apartment and then physically pushed her down stairs.

The text messages from Green-Beckham’s girlfriend are equally alarming, especially the one in which she says Green-Beckham had also hurt her and dragged her by the neck.

She later told investigators that she had been drinking and didn’t remember sending that text.

Clearly, she was concerned about Green-Beckham’s livelihood and his chance for a professional football career being damaged. That’s a common theme when talented players, especially those such as Green-Beckham who overcome tough backgrounds, go astray off the field.

But there’s also a line, and some of those lines you simply don’t cross.

One just happens to be among Pinkel’s core values in his Missouri program.

Even for the most talented of players, and players who would make a profound difference on the field, those core values apply 100 percent of the time.

That message rang out loud and clear Friday, when Mizzou sent one of the most gifted receivers in college football packing.

Where the Tigers go without him isn't as important as the fact that they did the right thing. Granted, there's not much depth coming back at receiver. Senior Bud Sasser is a returning starter, and fellow senior Darius White could be a breakout player next season. But between Green-Beckham and departed senior L'Damian Washington, the Tigers are losing 22 touchdown receptions.

That's a big loss for any team, and with sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk stepping in full-time as the starting quarterback, his development will become even more critical.

It's unfortunate for Mizzou and college football fans everywhere that we won't get to see Green-Beckham soaring into orbit to snare touchdown passes next season, or looking like he was shot out of a cannon after turning upfield on a slant route.

But this one's on him. He left the people at Mizzou who had stood behind him (namely Pinkel) after earlier missteps no choice.

Arrest or no arrest, he'd run out of chances.

SEC lunchtime links

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
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Spring games galore this weekend! Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt will be in action on Saturday. But news isn't just on the field; there's plenty off the field, too:

SEC lunchtime links

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
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Plenty going on as spring practices continue in the SEC. We have pro days, coaching talk, players adapting to new positions and even reality TV news in today's lunch links:

SEC's lunch links

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
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Ten of the Top 25 tailgating schools reside in the SEC, including all of the top six. Does this surprise anyone?

SEC's lunch links

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
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The SEC has been pumping out internet memes lately. Over the weekend there was Gene Chizik staring down his daughter's prom date. Then during Monday night's basketball national championship game, rapper Drake's many sports allegiances (Kentucky among them) were on display. Oh, and the kid Cats lost to UConn and then acted like they'd never heard of the NBA draft.

Let's swim back into the friendlier waters of SEC football, shall we?
Missouri has a problem on its hands when it comes to one of its star players.

Three months after being arrested in a car which contained marijuana, rising junior wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was suspended indefinitely on Monday for an undisclosed violation of team polices. Green-Beckham, who is the Tigers' top returning receiver, won't be able to participate in any sort of team functions or practices, effective immediately. Coach Gary Pinkel made the decision after consulting with athletic director Mike Alden.

[+] EnlargeDorial Green-Beckham
Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsDorial Green-Beckham, Missouri's top receiver, has been suspended indefinitely.
Since arriving in Columbia as the nation's No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2012, he has made eye-popping plays on the field and created some headaches for his coaches and teammates away from it. He was arrested as a freshman for possession of marijuana before his other drug-related arrest this past January. Charges from January's incident haven't been filed.

We don't know exactly what Green-Beckham is being suspended for, but it's clear that Pinkel has had enough of the antics. He suspended Green-Beckham for one game following his arrest in 2012 and on Monday alluded to the fact that multiple issues went into the decision to indefinitely suspend the Tigers' most talented player.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s the right thing to do for our football program, for the athletic department, and also for Dorial,” Pinkel said in his official statement. “We have high standards related to the expectations that come along with being a Missouri Tiger, and Dorial has not met those recently. Representing Mizzou and our fans is a privilege, and we’ll work with him during this process. It’s been disappointing to have this, and other issues which have taken place lately. It’s frustrating, because we work very hard to instill responsibility and discipline in our young men so that our program represents Mizzou the right way. These actions aren’t representative of those expectations, and we are addressing these issues head on."

Pinkel made it quite clear in his statement that he's frustrated and annoyed with Green-Beckham's behavior. Green-Beckham is supposed to be a leader and Missouri's offense is supposed to be revolve around him. It's hard for that to happen when he isn't around.

Tod Palmer of The Kansas City Star reports that Green-Beckham hasn't been arrested but is part of an ongoing investigation. What that investigation pertains to is unknown at the moment, but it was clearly something that sent Pinkel over the edge.

Regardless, it's very clear that Green-Beckham is struggling with his maturity. He's stunting his own growth as a person. He isn't showcasing good leadership skills and is putting himself before his own team. It's a shame because he's a special player to watch, but he's getting in his own way. Coaches don't indefinitely suspend players over petty incidents. This is something that Pinkel feels strongly about and the fact that Green-Beckham is his best player didn't get in the way of suspending him.

It's big of Pinkel, even if it does hurt his team. There are receiving options outside of Green-Beckham for Mizzou to work with, but none have the upside and overall skill. He was the nation's top receiver coming out of high school for a reason, and with L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas gone, this season was supposed to be the moment for the true Green-Beckham breakout we've been waiting for.

It certainly could still happen, but it isn't a given if Green-Beckham's off-the-field behavior isn't remedied.

SEC's lunch links

April, 7, 2014
Apr 7
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There were 80 fires put out and 21 arrests in Lexington on Saturday night after Kentucky defeated Wisconsin to reach Monday night's college basketball national championship game. Whatever happened to "Act like you've been there before?"
Brandon Allen. Nick Marshall. Bo Wallace.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Only three quarterbacks who started double-digit games last season return to the SEC this fall, and one of them isn’t even guaranteed to be a starter.

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesLes Miles and Nick Saban are in no hurry to name their starting QBs for the fall.
Everywhere you turn in this league, there’s a quarterback competition underway, from Alabama to Georgia, Arkansas to Kentucky, LSU to Texas A&M. Maty Mauk is surely the presumptive starter at Missouri, but even he's not a sure thing. Gary Pinkel says he wants competition, never mind that there were times when Mauk looked better than former starter James Franklin.

But not every coach in the SEC approaches the quarterback position the same way. A quick glance across the league shows a variety of opinions about how to pick a starter.

Mark Stoops is the most urgent-minded coach of the bunch, and given the inconsistency Kentucky had at quarterback last season, it’s easy to understand why. Entering his second season, Stoops said: “I’d love to come out of spring with a clear-cut starter.” That means everyone is in the mix. Maxwell Smith can’t practice while he recovers from shoulder surgery, but Jalen Whitlow, Reese Phillips, Patrick Towles and even true freshman Drew Barker are in the hunt.

Barker, a four-star prospect according to ESPN, “has a very good opportunity to take control of it,” Stoops said, praising his maturity for such a young quarterback.

“He’s a guy [who] has high expectations [for] himself, and he’s OK with the pressure that comes along with playing that position,” Stoops said. “He’s excited about the opportunity, and I’m excited to see what he can do.”

Bret Bielema isn’t outwardly putting a timetable on anything at Arkansas, but he’s encouraging everyone to compete. Allen started 11 games last season but was up and down, with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Bielema was about as no-nonsense as any coach gets about the situation.

“In theory, the first time we yell out for the [first string, Allen is] going to step out there,” Bielema said before the start of spring practice. “But really, in our program, the competition brings the best out of people.

“So B.A. is going to be the first guy in with the ones, but there will be other guys who get opportunity,” he continued. “Who is able to produce and run the offense effectively and who gives us the best chance to win next year’s opener against Auburn will be at that position.”

Similar to the case at Kentucky, Bielema isn’t counting out his true freshman. Rafe Peavey, another highly-regarded four-star prospect, is going to be allowed to sink or swim. Bielema loves his talent and praised him as a “football junkie.” But he’s not pampering the rookie.

“It’s no different between the right tackle or the quarterback or the safety,” Bielema said. “It’s all about what a freshman can handle, how they adjust to adversity and how they enjoy success.

“The quarterback gets a lot of attention. They’re usually really pretty, really smart, and everybody likes them. But in reality, they’re like everybody else. Those that play well will play and those that don’t will sit.”

While Bielema and Stoops are anxious for a battle, other coaches around the league are more inclined to sit back and wait.

[+] EnlargeKevin Sumlin
AP Photo/David J. PhillipWho will replace Johnny Manziel as Texas A&M's QB? Kevin Sumlin isn't saying anything right now.
LSU coach Les Miles said he has a good sense of the competition between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. “But it always plays out,” he said, harkening back to when Matt Flynn and JaMarcus Russell duked it out eight years ago. It looked like Flynn had the job in hand after winning a bowl game and watching Russell come into camp out of shape in 2006. But Flynn's body faltered down the stretch and Russell kept going, eventually winning the job.

"I want all the quarterbacks to know that it’s going to be given to no one,” Miles said. “[It’s] earned by the one that plays."

Texas A&M and Alabama are taking similar approaches to replacing Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron. In fact, both Kevin Sumlin and Nick Saban are somewhat defiant about holding the cards close to the vest.

Sumlin has gloated before that when people assumed Jameill Showers would beat out Manziel in 2013, "I didn't name a starter [after spring]; y'all did."

So while we watch Matt Joeckel, Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen jockey for position, don’t expect a starter to be named until close to the season.

Saban, for his part, doesn’t want to hear anything about it. His quarterback competition is essentially on hold until the fall, when Florida State transfer Jacob Coker arrives. Before the start of spring practice, Saban laid out his plan, saying, “Let me be very clear about this: We’re not going to be in a hurry to decide who the quarterback is.”

“You guys are going to ask me at least 1,000 times between now and the first game who's the first-team quarterback,” he added, “and I'm telling you right now you're probably going to get a 1,000 'We're going to wait and see.’ ”

The only place in the SEC that doesn’t have to be patient in the matter is South Carolina. Coach Steve Spurrier named Dylan Thompson the starter well before spring practice ever began.

Replacing Connor Shaw won’t be easy, but Spurrier said that Thompson was the guy for the job, no question. A fifth-year senior with plenty of in-game experience, Spurrier didn’t have a doubt in his mind.

“I didn’t know there was any question about it,” he said. “Someone said, ‘You’re just naming him the starting quarterback?’ Well, I just said, ‘Of course I am. Why wouldn’t we?’ ”

Spurrier did it his way. Saban and Sumlin are doing it theirs. Stoops is anxious, and Bielema and Pinkel are only interested in the competition.

Recruiting a quarterback is the furthest thing from an exact science. Finding out who’s ready to start is even more inexact.

This might be the season of new quarterbacks in the SEC, but everywhere there’s a different sense of which way the wind blows.

SEC's lunchtime links

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
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It's not exactly like the fall, but at least we'll have some football (spring) games this weekend. Let's take a quick spin around the SEC and see what's happening as the final spring scrimmages approach at some of the league's schools.
AUBURN, Ala. -- There wasn’t much fire in the voice of Gus Malzahn as he stood at the podium following Auburn’s first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. All told, it was a pretty boring scene. No injuries to report. No position changes to speak of. Only one turnover and a handful of big plays. His team had to move indoors because of the threat of rain, but as he said, “It didn’t bother us a bit.”

Watching Malzahn, you got the feeling he wasn’t playing coy. This was the difference a year makes. Last spring was an anxious time for Auburn. There was no quarterback, no depth chart and no sense of expectations. Malzahn and Co. were simply trying to pick up the pieces left behind from the previous staff.

This spring has a much different tone. All one needed to do was look at the long-sleeve, collared shirt Malzahn wore after practice, the one with the SEC championship patch on its left shoulder. The building phase of Malzahn’s tenure is over. The questions are much fewer this year than the last. And with that, the sense of urgency is far more diminished.

“We've got more information now, so we're not as urgent,” Malzahn said. “We pretty much know a lot about the guys returning.”

Not every coach in the SEC is in the same enviable position.

“You've also got to keep in mind next year," Malzahn said. "You want to get your guys as much reps as you can moving forward for next year, because that's what it's all about ... but I would say, probably, for the most part, that we've got guys in the position that we want them to be in."

Not every coach can afford to look ahead this spring. Not every coach has the time.

With that said, let’s take a look at the programs with the most to accomplish this spring, ranking all 14 schools by the length of their to-do list.

Vanderbilt: Any new coaching staff has the most work to do, from determining the roster to installing new schemes on both sides of the ball. Throw in a new starting quarterback and the raid James Franklin put on the recruiting class, and it adds up to an enormously important spring for Derek Mason.

Kentucky: Mark Stoops has done a lot to turn around the culture at Kentucky. In fact, veteran defensive end Alvin Dupree said it feels like more of a football school now. But the fact remains that Stoops has a very young group to deal with, so inexperienced that true freshman Drew Barker is in contention to start at quarterback.

Tennessee: The Vols are facing many of the same challenges in Year 2 under Butch Jones. He has brought in a wealth of talent, including a remarkable 14 early enrollees. Considering the Vols lost all of their starters on both the offensive and defensive lines, there’s a lot of work to do.

Florida: The hot seat knows no reason. All is good in Gator Land right now as a new offense under a new coordinator is installed, injured players -- including starting quarterback Jeff Driskel -- return, and expectations creep upward. But a bad showing in the spring game could change the conversation quickly for Will Muschamp.

Arkansas: There’s nowhere to go but up for Bret Bielema after a 3-9 finish his first year with the program. The good news is he has young playmakers on offense (Hunter Henry, Alex Collins, etc.). The bad news is the quarterback position is unsettled and his defensive coaching staff is almost entirely overhauled from a year ago.

LSU: A depth chart full of question marks is nothing new for Les Miles, who has endured plenty of underclassmen leaving for the NFL before. But missing almost every skill player on offense (Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry) hurts. He has to find replacements at several key positions, and we haven’t even gotten into the defense.

Texas A&M: Cedric Ogbuehi can replace Jake Matthews at left tackle. The combination of Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil can replace Mike Evans at receiver. But who replaces the legend of Johnny Football? Determining a starter under center won’t be easy, but neither will be overhauling a defense that was far and away the worst in the SEC last year.

Georgia: Jeremy Pruitt should breathe some new life into a struggling Georgia defense. Having Hutson Mason to replace Aaron Murray helps as well. But off-the-field problems continue to plague Mark Richt’s program. With stars such as Todd Gurley, the players are there. The pieces just need to come together.

Missouri: After 13 seasons in Columbia, Gary Pinkel knows how to handle the spring. Maty Mauk appears ready to take over for James Franklin at quarterback, and even with the loss of Henry Josey, there are still plenty of weapons on offense. The real challenge will be on defense, where the Tigers must replace six starters, including cornerstones E.J. Gaines, Kony Ealy and Michael Sam.

Alabama: The quarterback position won’t be settled this spring, so we can hold off on that. But still, Nick Saban faces several challenges, including finding two new starters on the offensive line, replacing C.J. Mosley on defense and completely overhauling a secondary that includes Landon Collins and a series of question marks.

Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze has his players. Now he just has to develop them. With emerging stars Robert Nkemdiche, Tony Conner, Laremy Tunsil, Evan Engram and Laquon Treadwell, there’s plenty to build around. Include a veteran starting quarterback in Bo Wallace and there’s a lot to feel good about in Oxford.

Mississippi State: It’s a new day in the state of Mississippi as both state institutions have high expectations this spring. Mississippi State returns a veteran defense, a solid offensive line and a quarterback in Dak Prescott who could turn into a Heisman Trophy contender. A few months after Dan Mullen was on the hot seat, he now appears to be riding high.

Auburn: Losing Tre Mason and Greg Robinson hurts, but outside of those two stars, the roster remains fairly intact. Nick Marshall figures to improve as a passer, the running back corps is well off, and the receivers stand to improve with the addition of D’haquille Williams. The defense should get better as youngsters such as Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson gain experience.

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier would like to remind everyone that Dylan Thompson was the only quarterback in the country to beat Central Florida last season. Sure, Thompson wasn’t the full-time starter last year, but he has plenty of experience and is ready to be the man. Throw in a healthy and eager Mike Davis and an improving set of skill players, and the offense should improve. The defense has some making up to do on the defensive line, but there’s no reason to panic, considering the rotation they used last year.

SEC lunch links

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
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While college basketball teams are punching their tickets to the Elite Eight, the SEC's best quarterback of the last two seasons might have cemented his position as an elite talent in the NFL draft.

SEC's lunch links

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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The words "revolutionary" and "game-changing" are prominent in the aftermath of Wednesday's ruling by a federal agency that college athletes at Northwestern University are school employees and can form a union. The SEC had this to say:
"Notwithstanding today's decision, the SEC does not believe that full time students participating in intercollegiate athletics are employees of the universities they attend," commissioner Mike Slive said in a written statement.

Former South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles came out against the idea of college football players unions.

Elsewhere in the South, spring practice and NFL scouting continued as if the earth had not spun off its axis.

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